Tuesday, 27 May 2014

West Lothian Rapture Part Two. Winchburgh, Broxburn, and the Big Bing Country

                                                ALL PHOTOS CLICK FULL SCREEN

The same day as Beecraigs (see previous post) I was still on the bike gliding through the Oilseed
 fields when I noticed a bulky land mass in the distance. The heat haze was increasing along with the temperature as morning drifted into afternoon. Maybe it was the beestings... or the pollen over the rape fields...or the perfume from all the flowers in the hedgerows but my mind started to drift as well.
Long before oilseed fields this area had been famous for another kind of oil. Shale oil and the Paraffin extracted from the rocks under this area had helped drive the industrial revolution. Some of the old shafts go down 3000 feet and the used shale after burning to extract  the oil was dumped in giant mounds or Bings around this area. The towns of Winchburgh and Broxburn are both dominated by massive Bings so a new idea formed. It had been a while since I'd explored the canyon lands of "Shaleopolis" and I knew these pink-red waste tips would be an interesting ecosystem in spring.
Maybe I would lose all the flies and honeybees by climbing up these slopes ( flies and bees clearly seen in this photo) so exploring  Greendykes and Niddry Bing landscapes became the new quest. I was getting slightly disenchanted with my role as "Lord of the Flies" and had swallowed enough for one day. This range of bings are unique in Scotland and are a lasting reminder of the industry that took place here.
It also has a very modern legacy as "Fracking" has been in the news over the past decade and is a major issue in many areas with pros and cons debated as conventional sources of oil decline.
 I don't know what the local view is on these bings and it's probably varied depending on who you ask but I think they are magnificent as there is nothing else like them in Scotland. They are being gradually eaten into for roads and building material but if I was a youngster here I'd want to save them for future generations to play on. They are a major recreational asset to the area as everywhere else is productive farmland locally so this is like a high level man made country park for locals (and occasional visitors.)

And it is truly beautiful up here with a completely different landscape and a mixed range of plants, wildlife, and insects.
The wondrous Canyon lands of Greendykes Bing.
A view from the summit plateau. This is Scotland's Uluru right here.... It's Red Centre.... The Heartland... and I for one think it should be treasured as a national asset. Not in any formal way with numerous restrictions but just left as it is right now as a lasting monument to the generations who worked here and built these massive mounds and for nature to decide what it becomes as it is being slowly colonised by the surrounding environment. Is it an eyesore or a treasure? 
Where else in Scotland can you get views like this?
Beetle and flower display
View of Niddry Castle and Niddry Bing
Panorama from the summit Plateau
                                                                        A low level view
                                                            Exploring the canyonlands
                                                                    Amazing views
Still had the bike with me up here as I didn't fancy leaving it below. Easy job to roll it across the plateau and I wasn't tempted to try any of the "Big Dipper" trail bike runs up here this time as I'm quite fond of my remaining teeth and need them for chewing dead lumps of animal.
                                 At the top of the "Big Dipper" looking down. Never Again!
Distant panorama looking back at the bing on the way back to Beecraigs and the car. What a magnificent day!
Back in the house I decided to cook a tasty meal but it seems to be all the rage now on telly to cook with someone watching you who can critique what your doing and offer advice on ingredients. You cant cook without someone watching you these days. It's uncool!
As Gordon Ramsay and the Master chef guys were all busy doing other projects ( G R swears too much anyway and I'd just end up fighting with him) I decided to go on Skype with my good friend and up and coming Mediterranean pop star "Smiley Cyprus" and her older relative/ godmother "Dimple Darling" who is the wise old owl in the kitchen just like Mary Berry in the UK.

The first course I prepared seemed to go down well  and they both enjoyed it. Baby potatoes, butter beans, cherry tomatoes, boiled egg, a dash of salad cream and horsenfurthfur sauce mixed together and  pork medallions with a drizzle of butter. "Dimple Darling" had to perform at a city down the road from her home town as she's always working and likes to keep busy so that left me with Smiley on her own.

It was a two course meal as I'd already had my starter of flying insects earlier. This was where the trouble started. Left to her own devices Smiley must have been at the cooking sherry as she was not happy with my filling of Apple and Rhubarb. Like all young stars she can be a bit of a diva at times but I'm sure she'll mature with age.

                                               " Hey, Mother******r What's that in that pie?"

                                                           "Apple and Rhubarb." I replied.

Apple and f****** Rhubarb ! Are you f******* shitting me!! That's soooo old School gramps. Get with it! We need more mother******g fibre in there. Get rid of those wimpy apples and that slimy red stuff. Are you trying to poison me!?

                               I was baffled "How? What should I put in? "

Weed man! Mother******g weed. Loads of it! Shovel it right in there! That's brain food!

                                                        "Are you sure?" I asked.

Listen here c********r. I'm on tour in the USA just now and its legal in certain states here. Shove in in. It's one of my mother*****g five a day! Damn good fibre! Keeps you regular! It's in my contract!

Me.  " Doesn't heavy long term use lead to depression, memory loss and mental health issues?

"So what! Dumb is the new smart! Get with the programme! Albert Einstein was only famous because of his crazy hair and stick out tongue on tee shirts. Image man image! That's what counts. Intelligence is over rated!

I was beginning to think maybe Gordon Ramsay wasn't so bad after all. "I haven't got any." I confessed.

" You  lame  D*****d. M***** F****** S*** for brains. That stuff should be in every *******  ****** kitchen! I'll send some over. Express Courier!!!" ********  ***** ***** Brits!
Twelve hours later I made another pie.

             " Man, That's what I'm talking about! Did you get all those nasty apples out of there?"


                                                                         "Good boy!"

                                 "Now that's what you call a pie. Can you email me the recipe?"

Dimple Darling returns from her gig. "What a night I'm shattered. Good audience though. What's in the oven Smiley? That sure do smell pretty good."

"It's a special pie recipe sent by a fan in England by E mail".

Me. "I live in Scotland actually".

Smiley. " Same place isn't it?"

Me.  "No"

Smiley.  "Whatever."

Me  "It's actually a different country".

Smiley. "Is it near London?"

Me.     "Not really"

Smiley. " It's not important then, is it gramps!."

Dimple Darling. "Wow, that sure is a tasty pie Smiley. Best I ever ate!" What was the filling?

Me and Smiley together.   "Nooooooooooo!! You didn't!!!

Me. " Only Kidding! I live in London!  England ! Get a doctor!

(Thought I'd have a change from the usual music video. Must have been all the bee venom inside me that cooked this idea up)


Carol said...

Those bings remind me both of the China Clay Heaps (which were my favourite part of Cornwall) and our own quarry slag-heaps (limestone). We used to play on the slagheaps all the time - either skidding about down them on foot (getting our shoes filled with chippings) or rolling old tyres or wheels down them. We once accidentally uprooted a tree by rolling a wheel down which hit it :-(

Wonder what the folks with the castle think to being in between all the bings?

I think if I was going to go down the Big Dipper with a bike, it would have to be my trail motorbike - that way, at least you have gears and don't have to rely on entirely on your brakes!

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Carol,
Yeah, we used to have lime hills and Coal bings in Nitshill in the 1960s. Most areas have lost them now and kids don't play outside much anymore. A lot of younger people don't believe we landed on the moon either as we don't do that nowadays so it couldn't have happened. Amazing how perceptions change with each new generation. Folk love nature programmes yet children don't explore outside anymore, sometimes with good reason when you see the long procession of people getting arrested every week for child offences, mostly historical from the 70s and 80s.
The bings have been there for 100 years so the castle inhabitants must be used to them by now.
What brakes! They don't work at all sliding down shale bings!

The Glebe Blog said...

Back in my childhood days some of the Fife bings were still burning underneath, they were the first place the polis searched if somebody went missing.
Regarding your Skype pal Smiley. She sounded just like my niece's Dublin Jackeen musician who's now been in the States for 6 months. He thinks he's reached his Nirvana with access to legalised weed.
Entertaining post sir..........oh and the pictures were good too.

blueskyscotland said...

Hi Jim,
I remember reading the Lochore Bings near Kelty in Fife used to be burning for years on and off until they turned it into a waterpark.
As regards Smiley... I'm always baffled by the duality that seems to exist in society where the most popular novel in recent decades was about a male millionaire grooming a young girl to be a sex slave (50 shades of Grey) which spawned dozens of imitations in every bookshop on the high street with similar topics of S and M yet there's a seemingly endless stream of rich celebrities going on trail for much the same thing at the moment.(allegedly)
A book that was mainly successful due to woman readers driving it up the popularity charts as I don't know any males that are remotely interested in reading it- including me.
Is it just myself that thinks this is very strange- like two completely different worlds with completely separate values existing side by side. All I can see is a land of mixed messages. Baffled is the word.